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Turning the page: In conversation with Jessica Lynn

We all have our own stories, and no two people are alike. This was the essence found in a webinar hosted by the Institute of Gender Studies on 24 August and presented by Jessica Lynn.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica shared her personal transgender journey in a presentation titled Turning the page. With deep-rooted passion, Jessica shared her story of transitioning, love and heartache with the audience.

In 1965, when Jessica was born, the question of “boy or girl” was something that could only be answered once she exited her mother’s womb. This was at a time before ultrasounds were widely used. Today, babies’ bedrooms are decorated to their born genitalia, and they are dressed in either blue or pink. In addition, all life choices are chosen for you, based on your genitalia, even the toys you play with. Your birth certificate is stamped “male” or “female”.

For Jessica, the stamp of male would elicit a decade of activism and education, as for many years her identity has been mistaken, wrongly assigned and shamed by others. Jessica spoke about the common psychological debate that is nature vs nurture, and how doctors believed that the way you raise your child will reflect the way they are and who they become.

Jessica had one dream: to become a girl. She would pray that God would turn her into a girl, but soon realised that no matter how hard she prayed, she would never turn into a girl. She started to feel abnormal, strange and weird for wanting to be a girl. She did not know how to tell this to her family. This was in an era where the term “transgender” was only a faraway dream. Jessica found herself lost, helpless and depressed. Her story is one of inspiration and education, rooted in real-life experiences and heartache. The audience walked with Jessica through her story, as she painted the scenes of her life.

As the years passed, Jessica struggled with her identity and her wish to become a woman grew stronger and stronger. As life took its path, Jessica met a woman who later became her fiancé. She confided in her and told her about her inner wish to become a woman. They were happy, but fate was not on their side as both Jessica and her fiancé were in a severe car accident, taking the life of Jessica’s fiancé.

This tragedy led to a path of destruction, but also one of healing as Jessica finally came out to her parents only to realise that they had known since she was four years old. In 1990, after years of research, Jessica decided to transition. During this time, she had befriended another woman who, like her fiancé, was initially supportive of her true identity. After an unplanned pregnancy, Jessica postponed her transition rather than letting her son come into the world without a father.

After another two decades, three children and a divorce, Jessica’s ex-wife moved the children to Texas, and Jessica could finally begin with transitioning. What Jessica did not know was that her ex-wife had only made this relocation to the most conservative county in the United States in a calculated move to challenge her (Jessica’s) parental rights to their youngest son. She succeeded and Jessica become the first parent in US history to have their name removed from their own child's birth-certificate, despite testimonies from a court appointed psychiatric evaluator, citing Jessica as having an active and supportive loving role in all her children’s lives.

For this reason, Jessica used her story to educate, inform and advocated for transgender rights. She ended off with a quote:

Life is like a book: some chapters are sad, some are happy, some are exciting, but if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter holds.”

Jessica believes that education is the most powerful tool to change the world, and that is what she has set out to do!

* By Leandra Joubert, Institute for Gender Studies

Publish date: 2022/09/20